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Health Advice

Taking Time to Adjust

Travel has changed considerably over the last ten years and we are now able to visit almost anywhere within the world, and all within just 36 hours.

But with quicker travel, we have introduced a new problem. In the past when travel took longer, common travel illnesses such as diarrhoea or malaria, would be incubated on board ocean liners and would never reach the UK. Another issue to face the frequent traveller is jet lag and adjusting to time differences.

Good Pre-Planning

Pre-planning can help to minimise the effects of time differences and jet lag. When booking your flight, check out the times available to you for departure, and find the time most suitable for you. Choose a direct flight that cuts down on travelling time. Get plenty of rest on the run up to travel, and make sure you get plenty of sleep the night before. Ensure all your main paper work is ready and in a safe place. Items such as passports, travel insurance and flight tickets should all be stored in the same, safe place so you know where everything is. If you are more organised, you will feel calmer and more relaxed.

Make sure you have plenty of sleep before your departure to compensate for any lack of sleep the body may experience once you arrive. You should also try to relax and unwind as much as possible during your journey, perhaps have a nap if possible. It would be beneficial if you can plan your landing time so it is close to bed time, so that once you land and check in, you can head straight to bed to adjust and recuperate. By the next day, you should be feeling much better and refreshed. If you are able to plan your itinerary like this, allow time upon arrival for adjustment. For example, don’t make any important plans immediately after landing. If you must keep an appointment while away, make sure you give yourself at least two full days to recover. For those with important schedules and meetings it would be worth discussing with your doctor the possible benefits of a mild sleeping tablet for 2-3 days whilst you adjust.

On Board the Flight

When you are on board the flight, it is advisable to avoid alcohol, caffeine and any other stimulants. Not only will these dehydrate your body, but they will also leave you feeling sluggish, bloated and uncomfortable. Dehydration will also increase your risk of DVT, so instead drunk plenty of water to keep yourself alert and hydrated. Try to exercise gently on board the flight to help blood flow, and to decrease the risk of DVT. Simple rotating movements of the ankle can help.

Some people also advise changing your watch or phone times to destination time when you get onto the plane. However, make sure you do not do this if you need to take medication at regular intervals as you may become confused. Exposure to natural light is also a good way of naturally allowing your body to adjust, as is eating local meals and gentle activity after landing.

When you arrive

When planning your schedule, you should try to allow at least 24 hours before any appointments or business meetings as the body will need time to adjust, and your mind should be sharp. A warm shower is a good way to get refreshed, but avoid long hot soaks as these will no doubt relax you and make it difficult to get going again.

On arriving at your destination change your watch to local time and try to adjust as quickly as possible to local time. Adjust to local food patterns and sleep times so you have a new routine, and try to engage in gentle exercise to leave you feeling more alert. Exposing yourself to bright light is believed to help your body return to normal cardiac rhythms.